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Firsthand Tsunami Account from Hawaii


As 6-foot waves from a tsunami hit the shores of Hawaii, triggered by a deadly 8.9 earthquake in Japan, travel blogger Christopher Elliott, on a trip to Maui with his 6-year-old son, hunkered down with other guests at the Grand Wailea resort.

Elliott tells AOL Travel News by phone he and his son, Iden, were asleep when they got a call from a friend who said they needed to leave their first-floor hotel room and move to higher ground.

"I tried to wake up Iden saying, 'There's a tsunami coming, know what a tsunami is? It's a giant wave and it's coming for us.' So he jumped out of bed and got dressed," Elliott says.

As tsunami warning sirens blared in Maui, everyone was told to evacuate to the hotel's 4th floor lobby or higher. "Iden was like, dad, let's get out of here," Elliott says.

"I decided to be a little more cautious. I moved up to the 8th floor business center," Elliott says.

He and Iden later moved to the hotel's 6th floor where they could see down into the lobby, via an atrium.

Christopher Elliott photo

"Everything below the 4th floor was evacuated," Elliott says. "A lot of folks from the lower floors moved to the lobby and brought sheets and blankets and made makeshift beds. I am looking at the bar and it looks like people are sleeping next to the bar and others drinking coffee."

Elliott says he has been awake all night drinking coffee too. He said the mood at the hotel was "pretty subdued."

He says hotel security told everyone to only take their valuables and any medication they needed from their rooms, though some people grabbed everything. "So now in addition to a tsunami warning, we have a fire hazard."

Elliott and Iden grabbed their laptop and iPad, respectively.

Christopher Elliott photo

When the first waves hit around 8:30 a.m. ET, "a lot of people gathered to look into the darkness and see if they could see a wave. Of course you couldn't see anything," Elliott says.

"Some idiots ran outside to see if they could get a better look at the waves, and security went running."

As the waves washed onshore, "the mood went from being nervous and apprehensive to being almost festive," Elliott says. "I'm told the all clear will come shortly."

"My sense is we're okay," he adds.

Elliott has been posting updates on Twitter.

"Everything seems fine, but we won't know more until we have some light and know the extent of the damage," he says, adding "Iden really wants to go in the pool, but we don't know if that's going to happen today. But we're fine."

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